In the wake of several reported dog attacks this week, Auckland Council is this week rolling out a ‘dog safety’ app designed to keep children safe around our four legged friends.
The global app was developed in Auckland for Marts Petcare by Colenso BBDO.
According to the council, Auckland will be the first city to roll it out in schools, using a suite of iPads donated by educational IT supplier Cyclone.
“The council receives 150 to 200 call-outs a month relating to dog nuisance, including 17 bites on children over the past nine months,” says community development and safety committee chair, Councillor Cathy Casey.
Casey says the council’s animal management team has been working for some time with Mars Petcare, which owns and distributes PEDIGREE in New Zealand, to help them develop an interactive dog safety app aimed at primary school aged children, a group that forms the largest at-risk age group in Accident Compensation Corporation national dog bite statistics.
“The PEDIGREE app, called ‘A Dog’s Story’, is ideal for engaging young children and teaching them safe behaviour around dogs,” Casey says.
Casey says Auckland Council animal management officers and training dogs will visit schools, teach children how to use the app, take them through the lessons and encourage them to practice their skills on friendly dogs.
"Our dogs are very experienced with children and working with live dogs raises children’s confidence,” she says.
Children will be given a fridge magnet to take home to encourage their parents to download the app at home.
“We don’t expect all primary school children to have a smartphone or tablet of their own, but we know 85 to 90% of households will have one,” says Auckland Council's animal management manager, Geoff Keber.
“So we’re hoping parents will play the interactive game with their children and with other children in the home,” he says.
“Our aim is to help keep dogs a positive part of the life of Aucklanders, and helping children to keep themselves safe is a critical element of that,” Keber adds.
“Partnerships like this one with Mars Petcare and PEDIGREE mean we can deliver high-quality educational materials that are relevant to young audiences without any cost to ratepayers,” says Casey.
Mars Petcare reports high interest in the app from other countries where dogs are an important part of urban life. The ‘A Dog’s Story’ app is available now as a free download from the App Store andGoogle Play.
Schools can book a dog safety education session on the Auckland Council website.